Astaxanthin treatment confers protection against oxidative stress in U937 cells stimulated with lipopolysaccharide reducing O2- production

PLoS One. 2014 Feb 10;9(2):e88359. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088359. eCollection 2014.


Recently, astaxanthin (ASTA) studies have focused on several biological functions such as radical scavenging, singlet oxygen quenching, anti-carcinogenesis, anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory, anti-melanogenesis, and immune enhancement activities. In this study, we investigated the potential role protective of ASTA, an antioxidant marine carotenoid, in restoring physiological conditions in U937 cells stimulated with LPS (10 µg/ml). Our results show that pre-treatment with ASTA (10 µM) for 1 h attenuates the LPS-induced toxicity and ROS production. The beneficial effect of ASTA is associated with a reduction intracellular O2 (-) production by restoring the antioxidant network activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT), which influence HO-1 expression and activity by inhibiting nuclear translocation of Nrf2. We accordingly hypothesize that ASTA has therapeutic properties protecting U937 cells from LPS-induced inflammatory and oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Heme Oxygenase-1 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism
  • Nitroblue Tetrazolium / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Protective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Superoxides / metabolism*
  • U937 Cells
  • Xanthophylls / chemistry
  • Xanthophylls / pharmacology


  • Antioxidants
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • NFE2L2 protein, human
  • Protective Agents
  • Xanthophylls
  • Superoxides
  • Nitroblue Tetrazolium
  • astaxanthine
  • Catalase
  • Heme Oxygenase-1
  • Superoxide Dismutase

Grants and funding

The Italian Ministry for University and Research is acknowledged for financial support. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.